Why. This word, when asked with frequency in response to the slings and arrows that life throws at all of us, is a death sentence. The minute we choose to retrospectively ask why and ponder why our lives turned out so is the minute we die spiritually and we cease to live life in the moment. The root of most sadness is thus; the twin spirits of regret and remorse of a life spent looking backward and wondering why is a life that is full of sorrow, bitterness and nothingness. Why fogs up our prism as endless preponderances of why eventually cakes our window with all pane and no glass to see through.
So when I say the question why is a death sentence vis-à-vis figuring out why life bedevils us so, I do not say so gratuitously. Many people live devoid of life—many more make the most horrific of decisions to end it all—because they let why become the albatross on their souls. This article thus is dedicated to imploring people to not ask why when life takes a turn for the worse—all of us in time will be enveloped by fire and shrouded in darkness. When these moment arrives, don’t ask why. Instead take a pause and reflect, try to realize how you got where you are, and then ask how you can seize the lemons that life throws and find meaning in the seemingly meaningless.
I am not saying this to preach to you nor am I presenting myself as some sort of subject matter expert when it comes to the twists and turns of life. Heck, I’m still going through it for it was not too long ago that I was stuck in my own never ending cadence of why, why, why. This question why became my crucible; whatever misfortune and malfeasance was laid at my footstool was in time eclipsed by my conniption to figure out why these things happened. Each day I woke up thinking “why did this happen to me” or “why did God allow this to happen to me”. Why became my wife in the morning and my mistress on the weekends; I could not shake why no matter what I did. This sole friend why would smooch me daily and kiss my forehead before I went to sleep.
Why walked hand in hand with me right down the lane of depression and ennui. The more I asked why, the more why enveloped me in sadness. The irony of it; the more you ask why in life, the more the answer to that question eludes you. Why is a rabbit hole mixed with a quick sand; struggle in why long enough and you will soon find yourself in perpetual misery. Why has robbed more people of their happiness than Wall Street executives have robbed the world of their possessions. Why is a mugger of hope and a vanquisher of purpose—all should avoid why when it comes to pondering life as if it was Ebola.
Live long enough and all of us will be visited with pains, trauma and injustice. When this happens, do not go into victim mode and perpetually focusing on why—in this context, why is nothing more than a form of victimization. Being victimized does not have to mean you are victim. Bad breaks should not be followed up with breaking yourself endlessly with asking why. When life hits you over the head with a cudgel, it is best to not reside in the shadows of why me and instead find purpose in crucibles.
That saying “when life hands you lemons make lemonade” is true; but there is something to this beyond just making a fruity drink. The lemons that life throws at you can be many; some lemons that come for us are of our own doing and some lemons are maliciously thrown at us by others. But if we only pause and realize, lemons that are thrown at us are also lemons that are gifted to us. Lemons have lemon seeds in them; when we find ourselves in a monsoon of life’s lemons there is a blessing to be found in this downpour for there are endless seeds of hope in the very same lemons that beset us.
I found my purpose through the very lemons that life threw at me. When I stopped asking why, I realized the blessings of life are made evident through hardship. A lifetime spent chasing validation and acceptance led me to copious bad decisions which culminated in a most mind bending exodus. But an exodus was God’s present for a lonely travel led me to a journey of discovery. It was this discovery that led me to writing my first book “Serendipity’s Trace” (below) and the same exodus led to founding the Ghion Journal.
In Amharic, the word why is “lemen”. Don’t let the lemons of life lead you to saying lemen; instead take those lemons and harvest the seeds in them. Champions are made not through a life of ease, adversity is what differentiates victor from victim. Don’t let your story be that of victim no matter what injustice has been bequeathed to you. Be a winner and rise above the antipathy of lesser people who love to smile at your misfortune. Others might write our prologue with judgement and malice but—hot damn—the lemon they toss our way give us the lemon seeds which fills our pens with an ink of resilience and purpose. Without knowing it, injustice gives us a mighty pen filled with a never ending ink with which we get to write our story. Write that story not with lemen but with audacity #LemenSeeds
Heaven is in us regardless of the hell about us.
If you like this article and think others should hear this message, share it on social media as you see fit using #LemenSeeds and make sure to check out the past two Ghion Cast associated with the message entailed in this article
Every Saturday, I focus on the blessings of life no matter how turbulent life gets. I usually do a Ghion Cast, as time permits, every Saturday called “Sabbath Epistle” the videos below are reruns since work schedule precludes me from doing a Ghion Cast today. Have a wonderful day and, remember, turn those lemons into seeds of purpose.
Serendipity’s Trace and Soul to Soil, two books that came were birthed through my journey. Available on Amazon, click HERE or click on the picture below. Peace and remain blessed::
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
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